Participating and non-participating policies, and which one is ULIP

Understanding insurance is important, especially when terms like “participating” and “non-participating” policies come into play. To add another layer, there’s the concept of ULIP plans, a unique investment-cum-insurance product. In this blog, we will demystify these terms, aiming for clarity.

Understanding ULIPs

Understanding ULIPs, or “what is ULIP?” as a term, involves delving into a unique financial product that bridges the gap between investment and insurance.

A Unit Linked Insurance Plan (ULIP) is a multifaceted product designed to offer the policyholder the dual advantages of investment and insurance within a single consolidated framework. When you invest in a ULIP, you’re not just ensuring financial protection for your loved ones through life insurance coverage; you’re also taking a step towards growing your wealth by investing in a range of qualified investment options like stocks, bonds, or mutual funds.

Participating vs Non-Participating Policies

To understand ULIPs better, it’s crucial to grasp the difference between participating and non-participating policies:

  • Participating Policies: These are life insurance policies that allow the policyholder to share in the profits of the insurance company. These profits are distributed in the form of bonuses or dividends. The “participation” refers to the policy’s eligibility to earn dividends, which are not guaranteed and depend on the insurer’s performance. Participating policies are typically more expensive than their non-participating counterparts because they offer the potential for dividends.
  • Non-Participating Policies: In contrast, non-participating policies do not share in the insurer’s profits. There are no dividends or bonuses, and the benefits are clearly defined at the policy’s outset. Because there’s no variable component of dividends, these policies are usually less expensive and offer a guaranteed return or benefit that does not fluctuate with the insurance company’s financial performance.

Which one is ULIP?

ULIPs do not fit neatly into the participating or non-participating categories. Instead, they represent a different approach to policy design, focusing on investment alongside insurance coverage. A ULIP plan allows policyholders to invest in various market-linked instruments, offering the potential for higher returns (with associated higher risks) than a traditional life insurance policy. Thus, ULIPs provide a unique model that focuses on wealth creation in addition to insurance coverage without the concept of dividends associated with participating policies.


Let’s consider an example to illustrate the potential financial outcomes of investing in a ULIP plan in India.

Suppose Mr. A invests INR 1,00,000 annually in a ULIP with a policy term of 20 years. Assuming an average annual growth rate of 8% in the equity market, we can approximate the future value of this investment.

  • Annual Premium: INR 1,00,000
  • Policy Term: 20 years
  • Assumed Growth Rate: 8% per annum

Using the formula for the future value of a series of payments (annuity), we can calculate the approximate maturity amount. However, it’s important to note that ULIPs also come with various charges, such as premium allocation charges, policy administration charges, fund management fees, and mortality charges, which can affect the final amount available at maturity.

Benefits of ULIPs

Understanding and leveraging benefits can significantly contribute to a robust financial plan. ULIPs not only offer a safety net through life insurance but also pave the way for wealth creation, making them an integral component of a diversified investment portfolio.

  1. Flexibility: One of the hallmark features of ULIPs is their flexibility. Investors have the liberty to select from a variety of fund options, ranging from equity to debt or a mix, depending on their risk tolerance and financial goals. This adaptability ensures that policyholders can navigate through different market scenarios by adjusting their investment choices.
  2. Transparency: ULIPs are designed with transparency at their core. Policyholders are well-informed about the allocation of their premiums — precisely how much is dedicated to the insurance component and how much is channelled into investments. This clarity empowers investors to make informed decisions about their finances.
  3. Tax Benefits: Investing in ULIPs comes with attractive tax advantages. Contributions made towards ULIP premiums are eligible for tax deductions under Section 80C of the Income Tax Act, while the returns and maturity benefits enjoy tax exemption under Section 10(10D), subject to certain conditions. These tax benefits make ULIPs an efficient tool for tax planning.
  4. Long-Term Investment: ULIPs are inherently long-term investment vehicles. They inculcate a disciplined approach to investing, which is crucial for realising significant life goals, whether it’s accumulating retirement corpus, funding a child’s education, or any other long-term financial aspiration. The lock-in period and the structure of ULIPs encourage investors to stay invested for the long haul, allowing their investments to compound and grow over time.


Choosing between participating, non-participating, and ULIP plans depends on an individual’s financial goals, risk tolerance, and investment horizon. While participating policies offer a share in the insurer’s profits, non-participating policies provide guaranteed benefits without the frills. ULIPs, with their unique blend of investment and insurance, offer a route for those looking to potentially grow their wealth over the long term while enjoying the protection of insurance coverage.